Orlando Magic Grades: Milwaukee Bucks 124, Orlando Magic 87

The Orlando Magic struggled to get themselves going as the Milwaukee Bucks knocked them off. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic struggled to get themselves going as the Milwaukee Bucks knocked them off. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

87. 38. Final. 124. 89

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford put it best after the game in his brief comments to the media. If you were looking for one thing positive from Sunday’s 124-87 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks it was that Mohamed Bamba shot well.

That was it. And that is about as far as the team could go in search of something positive.

Disorganized losses like this one are not conducive to development for anyone. There is not even much for the team’s young players to gain from a defeat like this.

The Magic were down almost from the start and never truly recovered. Sure, they cut it to five at one point early, but that did not last long.

The Orlando Magic got hit in the mouth against the Milwaukee Bucks as their defensive struggles continued and their offense continued to crater.

Bamba was indeed the only offensive option worth talking about — 21 points, 8-for-11 shooting, 5-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc — and the Magic had little else.

Milwaukee hit 19 of 40 3-pointers compared to Orlando’s 8 of 36. The Bucks’ usually stingy paint defense gave the Magic few outlets and easy paths to the basket. There were a few flashy plays, sure, but the Bucks were happy to let the Magic fire away from three or take contested shots over their paint defense.

Orlando has perhaps the worst offense in the league since the trade deadline. Even Clifford admitted that offensive performances like this are kind of where the team is at. The Magic just do not have enough consistent offensive options.

And so the focus on the team’s defense and getting that right remains the task ahead for this team.

Even that is not there as Orlando again struggled to contain dribble penetration consistently, over-rotated and were late getting out to 3-point shooters. It says something that the Bucks had 28 assists and seemed to pick the Magic’s defense apart.

It quickly became a discouraging and dispiriting effort. Orlando just did not have the precision to execute well enough on either end. And an undirected effort just is not good enough.

A. . C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

Mohamed Bamba was hard on himself after the Orlando Magic’s loss Sunday. He was still clearly replaying the moments in his mind he could have been a better back-line defender and helped try to change the momentum. Defensively, Bamba is still getting used to and comfortable with his reads. It is clear though experience has helped him as he is better at diagnosing these situations.

But it was also pretty clear that Bamba was playing hurt. He fell awkwardly on his hip in the second quarter of Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. It happened again early in this game. And he was struggling to move laterally. But Bamba’s spatial awareness and court sense is getting significantly better too.

Bamba’s scoring largely came because of how smart he was when he was involved in the play. He scored a career-high 21 points on 5-for-6 shooting from deep and 8-for-11 shooting overall. He popped to open space and shot confidently over smaller defenders and he has started to add the roll game the Magic were hoping to develop.


For better or for worse — or just the reality of this roster — Michael Carter-Williams is this team’s leader. It feels like everyone is looking to him to set the edge for this team and the intensity they are going to play with. If he is not playing aggressively or with intensity, the rest of the team seems to follow. That alone might not be enough to lead the Magic to a win — Carter-Williams is a very flawed player — but it is at least a start for this team.

This game really saw Carter-Williams struggle to set that edge. He was settling for 3-pointers, missing all four of his long-range shots. He did not really seem to attack the basket much and try to create in the paint to get the defense to collapse. He just kind of hung out. Carter-Williams finished with nine points on 4-for-10 shooting for the game.

B. . SG. Orlando Magic. GARY HARRIS

Gary Harris is still clearly getting his legs back under him after missing nearly two months with a leg injury. With Chuma Okeke out, coach Steve Clifford slid him into the starting lineup. And it was clear he can help. The Magic just need to get him into a rhythm. That will help everyone play better and bring some balance to the lineups.

As things stand he is still working to get into a better shooting rhythm. He scored nine points on 4-for-10 shooting, making one of his three 3-pointers. His defense was generally fairly solid. But he is still learning the team’s schemes and concepts. And the Magic just do not have enough guys on the same page for it to mean anything.

Orlando Magic. R.J. HAMPTON. C. . G

Rookies have ups and downs. Especially as they get their first bits of playing time. They have to learn how to be good every single night and adjust as the complicated and sophisticated defensive schemes NBA teams throw at them change. R.J. Hampton had a strong start to his tenure with the Orlando Magic. Now, he is seemingly hitting a swoon.

Orlando is still trying to protect him somewhat. It is not clear if that is working or if the Magic should let him have a bit of freedom. Either way, there is still plenty of promise even if there are still some mistakes and a player who is playing a million miles per hour. The game just has not slowed down for Hampton. He scored seven points on 3-for-11 shooting, showing an eagerness to shoot. He was aggressive too. But committed three turnovers — two on lob attempts to Mohamed Bamba.

A+. . 33-20. 3rd East. MILWAUKEE BUCKS

When a team dominates this thoroughly, sometimes you have to tip your cap to them. The Milwaukee Bucks seemingly broke the Orlando Magic’s spirit early. The team still tried hard, but it lacked the edge or push needed to make a difference. The Bucks just ran through the Magic and did whatever they wanted.

Even without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks still made a living in the paint with 40 points in the paint. But a lot of that was merely a prelude to kicking out to the 3-point line where they just consistently crushed the Magic. Milwaukee had balance with everyone from Khris Middleton (21 points) to Pat Connaughton (11 points) to Jordan Nwora (11 points) raining down from deep.

Next. Orlando Magic still building trust on defense. dark

The Orlando Magic are on a five-game losing streak and have fallen to 17-36, 14th in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Chicago Bulls by 5.5 games for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. The Orlando Magic close their four-game homestand Monday against the San Antonio Spurs.